Isuzu has enjoyed a good reputation for building off-road vehicles for many years, and the D-Max Huntsman doesn't disappoint, says Ed Coles
I was waiting eagerly for the Isuzu Huntsman to turn up, and at first glance it has the air of a stealth fighter about it, particularly in this colour with black wheels. If Bruce Wayne had a 4×4 in the cave, it would probably have been the Huntsman.
The D-Max has earned a good reputation as a 4×4 pickup. It’s been awarded best pickup several times, so the DNA of the Huntsman is sound. Isuzu has taken the double-cab, D-Max Utah and put together an optional extras kit.
Testing the Isuzu D-Max Utah Huntsman Plus
- The beast on test is the Huntsman Plus — being a Utah, the interior spec is already pretty high.
- At the business end of things, shiny protection plates guard the diff and 4×4 vitals, and it’s the same at the front with the strengthened undertray — suggesting Isuzu means business with this.
- Glancing left and right, the suspension confirms it. This is the ‘Plus’ bit to the Huntsman; it’s fitted with a Pedders suspension kit with increased travel — stability is the name of the game.
- Some nice shiny red uprated springs and shock absorbers push the D-Max up a little at the front and at the back, with the addition of upgraded suspension and an anti-roll bar. It looks as if it can handle most terrain.
- The 18in wheels come with the kit and are supplied with rugged Pirelli All Terrain tyres, including a spare. They’re black, so you won’t be given away by moonlight glare off shiny silver wheels. S
- imilarly, the grille, mirrors, sidesteps and door handles are in a matt finish, or ‘dechromed’ as Isuzu puts it, which could be handy when lamping.
Safe and secure
- When you open the tailgate and pop the rear glass, there is a handy lockable aluminium drawer system for all your fieldsports essentials, be they rifles, shotguns or rods.
- The two long drawers fit 30in barrels. There are also two smaller drawers for ammunition. With this system fitted, you lose 9in to 10in of height in the back, which isn’t actually too much of a problem, because what you lose in height you gain in security.
- There is still enough room for a dog box on top, and the standard Shooting Times measurement of half a ton of bagged-up wheat would fit in the back.
- I recommend putting a rubber cover over the top. The anti-slip material on top is quite abrasive and you don’t want to split feed bags — use the runners for the securing eyelets, which can be adjusted or removed.
Under the bonnet
On opening the bonnet the first thing you notice is that you can actually see the engine — a small plastic ‘tea tray’ is fitted over the top. Isuzu has a pretty good reputation for engines and has been supplying other manufacturers for a while.
The D-Max Huntsman comes as a four-cylinder 1.9-litre diesel, with 164 tiny horses galloping about. It’s not lightning quick in first or second gear, but it soon gets going and is pretty lively — towing shouldn’t be a problem, which is handy because the Huntsman kit comes with a towbar and 13-pin electrical socket. It sits quite nicely at speed on a motorway and feels stable and comfortable in the lanes. I was pleasantly surprised as I had feared the upgraded suspension and tyres could cause road noise and ‘boatiness’, but all is good on tarmac and off-road. The 4×4 settings are self-explanatory: 2-High, 4-High and 4-Low, all operated by an electric switch, so no secondary lever to worry about. I can see why the D-Max is popular; simplicity is the key.
Bells and whistles
Inside, the full-leather heated seats are plush and comfortable. The interior is modern, stylish but slightly understated. You don’t feel overwhelmed by buttons and gadgets — there are just the right amount of toys. The touchscreen controls the DAB radio, navigation, phone and reversing camera. There’s an app function, and it comes with Apple’s CarPlay.
The interior mats are worth a mention, because they demonstrate that somebody has thought about the detail. They cover almost the whole floor area and are shaped so they hold mud and debris in a trough.
Fit for purpose?
Yes! The Huntsman is the ideal hunting, shooting, fishing and keepering wagon. I enjoyed driving it and didn’t want to give it back — it’s as comfortable on a motorway as it is practical for a sporting adventure.
The bottom line
If I’m honest, the ‘Plus’ bit of the kit might be a bit overkill for my needs. I’m sure the standard D-Max suspension would be more than adequate.
The Standard Huntsman kit comes in at £6,250 plus VAT and the Huntsman Plus is £7,250 plus VAT. Add that to the Utah’s on-the-road price of £25,709 plus VAT and that gives you a grand total of £32,959 plus VAT, or £39,550 inclusive.
So, in summary, Isuzu has taken something that wasn’t broken and made it better for the sporting country type. I’d recommend you buy one — actually, buy two and give me the other one.
We advise you on what to wear shooting, whether at the clay ground or in the field
Receiving an invitation to go shooting of one of the sport’s great pleasures. Hopefully you’ll receive several during the season.…
Need to know
- Manufacturer: Isuzu
- Model: D-Max Utah
- Class: Huntsman Plus
- Fuel consumption: Urban 37.2mpg, estra urban 42.8 mpg, combined 40.4mpg
- 0-62 mph (secs): 12.7
- Top speed: 112 mph
- Gross vehicle weight: 3.050kg
- Towing weight: 3,500kg
- Payload: 1.099kg